Camel Breeds and Species Explained

camel husbandry & care
Camel Breeds dromedary bactrian wild and hybrid camel

Camel Breeds and Species

(Extract from Introduction to Camel Husbandry Book)

There are two main species of camels: the Dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius) and the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus),  in addition to these there are the hybrid breeds of camels and the wild Mongolian bactrian camel. Let's explore the breeds in more details.


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 1. Dromedary Camel (Camelus dromedarius)

  1. Also known as the Arabian camel, the dromedary camel is characterised by its single hump. This species is native to the Middle East and North Africa, where it has been domesticated for thousands of years and are now commonly domesticated as pets and working animals in Australia, United States and Europe. 

    In the late 19th and early 20th centuries camels were imported to Australia and were indispensable for transporting essential materials across vast distances, because of this Australia now has the world’s largest wild camel herds, they are thriving in the Australian outback and are classified as a “pest” by the Australian government. 

  1. Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus)

The Bactrian camel is native to Central Asia, particularly the steppes of Mongolia and China. Unlike the dromedary camel, the Bactrian camel has two humps. This species is adapted to cold desert environments and has historically been used for transportation, milk, and meat production in the region.

The bactrian camels are now commonly domesticated as pets and working animals in the United States and Europe. 

While these are the two main species of camels, there are also various regional populations and breeds within each species, influenced by factors such as local environmental conditions, selective breeding, and cultural practices. However, these regional variations typically fall under the broader classifications of dromedary or Bactrian camels.

Hybrid Camel Breed


Russia has a population of crossbred camels resulting from the hybridization of the two main species: the dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius) and the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus). These hybrids, often referred to as F1 hybrids, possess characteristics of both parent species and are adapted to the specific environmental conditions of the regions where they are bred.

In Russia, the crossbreeding of camels has been primarily focused on producing animals suitable for local conditions, including harsh winters and sparse vegetation. The resulting hybrids often exhibit traits that combine the endurance and heat tolerance of the dromedary camel with the cold resistance and ability to thrive on poor forage of the Bactrian camel.

While Russia's crossbred camels may not represent a distinct breed in the same way as purebred animals, they nonetheless play an important role in the livelihoods and economies of certain regions, contributing to the diversity and resilience of Russia's agricultural landscape.

F1 camels (first-generation hybrids) resulting from the crossbreeding of dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) and Bactrian (Camelus bactrianus) camels, often exhibit a unique combination of features inherited from both parent species. Here are some common characteristics of F1 camels:

  1. Single hump: 


Like dromedary camels, F1 hybrids typically have a single hump, although often a significantly larger size and shape of the hump.

  1. Dual coat: 

F1 camels may inherit a mix of the coarse hair characteristic of dromedaries and the softer, woollier undercoat of Bactrian camels, resulting in a dual-layered coat that provides insulation in various climates.

  1. Temperament:

F1 camels may display a blend of temperamental traits from both parent species. They can exhibit the intelligence, endurance, and adaptability of dromedary camels, as well as the docility and tolerance to cold weather often associated with Bactrian camels.

  1. Adaptability: 

F1 camels are often bred for their adaptability to specific environmental conditions, including hot deserts, cold steppes, and arid regions. They may inherit physiological traits from both parent species that enable them to thrive in diverse climates and landscapes.

  1. Size and stature: 

F1 camels may vary in size and stature depending on factors such as genetics, diet, and environmental conditions. They typically fall somewhere between the sizes of dromedary and Bactrian camels, with variations in height, weight, and body proportions.

Overall, F1 camels represent a unique blend of characteristics from two distinct camel species, making them versatile animals that can serve various purposes in agriculture, transportation, tourism, and other industries. Their hybrid vigour and adaptability make them valuable assets in regions where purebred dromedary or Bactrian camels may face challenges due to environmental conditions or specific breeding objectives.

The F2 camel breed refers to the second generation resulting from the crossbreeding of two F1 hybrid camels. In other words, it is the offspring produced when two F1 hybrid camels are bred together. The F2 generation inherits genetic traits from both the original parent species, as well as from the first-generation hybrids.

While F1 hybrids are often intentionally bred to capitalise on specific traits or characteristics, the breeding of F2 camels may occur for various reasons, including further refinement of desired traits, adaptation to specific environments, or experimentation with hybrid vigour.

The F2 generation may exhibit a wider range of variation in traits compared to the F1 hybrids, as genetic recombination occurs during the mating process. As a result, F2 camels may display a combination of traits inherited from both the dromedary and

Bactrian camel parent species, as well as any unique characteristics that emerged in the F1 hybrid generation.

In camel breeding programs, the production of F2 camels may be part of ongoing efforts to develop new camel breeds tailored to specific purposes or environments. These efforts contribute to the diversification and adaptation of camel populations to meet the evolving needs of human societies and industries.

The F1 & F2  hybrid camel breed is also produced in the United States, where similar cross breeding efforts are undertaken to capitalise on the desirable traits of both the dromedary and Bactrian camels.

F1 & F2 hybrid camels can only be achieved in locations where both Dromedary and Bactrian camels are available. Places such as Australia and the Middle East only consist of domesticating Dromedary camels making the hybrid option unavailable. 

In locations where only one species of camel is present, efforts may focus on breeding and selecting for desirable traits within that species rather than pursuing hybridization. For example, in Australia, where dromedary camels are prevalent, breeding programs may aim to enhance traits such as milk production, or temperament through selective breeding within the dromedary population.

Similarly, in regions where Bactrian camels are the primary species, such as Central Asia, breeding programs may focus on improving traits specific to Bactrian camels, such as cold tolerance and wool production.

Additionally recent studies suggest that the Wild Mongolian Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus) is genetically distinct from the domestic Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus).

Genetic analysis has revealed significant differences between the Wild Mongolian Bactrian camel and the domestic Bactrian camel, indicating that they represent distinct evolutionary lineages.

The Wild Mongolian Bactrian camel is considered an endangered species, with an estimated population of fewer than 1,000 individuals in the wild. Habitat loss, poaching, and competition with domestic livestock are among the primary threats to its survival.

The recognition of the Wild Mongolian Bactrian camel as a distinct breed highlights the importance of conserving and protecting this iconic species and its fragile desert ecosystems. By safeguarding the Wild Mongolian Bactrian camel, we can ensure the survival of a unique and culturally significant animal for future generations.

Camel Breeds and Species Poster (Below) 



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